Do you need a special diet when you breastfeed? We list down some golden rules to help you ensure you and your baby get all the nutrients you need.
Golden Rule #1: Start your diet right from Day One
Once you know you are pregnant, it’s important to start noticing on what you eat daily. To have a healthy baby, mummies must ensure that they are healthy too. Chances are, if you eat well your baby will too.
In general, it is advisable to consume 500 calories more than the normal amount you consumed before getting pregnant. However, this depends on the energy reserves built up during pregnancy and each woman’s level of physical activity may differ. This could be too much for some women and too little for others.
So what consists of a balanced diet?
Two servings of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday in all your meals and snacks. On top of that, your body needs extra nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, DHA, folic acid (or folate, taken before and during early pregnancy), and probiotics to support the rapid growth of your developing baby.
Are you getting these nutrients in your diet?
- Calcium helps to support development of strong bones and teeth. Some food with calcium are: cheese, yoghurt, milk, spinach, kale, turnips, soybeans
- Vitamin D helps support calcium absorption and improves bone strength. Trout, cod liver oil, Portobello mushrooms, tofu and eggs are some sources where you can get your Vitamin D.
- Iron and DHA help in the development of your baby’s brain, nervous system and retina. Some sources of DHA include salmon, sardines and tuna. Food high in iron includes liver (Pork, chicken, lamp, beef), squash, nuts, beans, whole grains and dark leafy greens
- Folic Acid or Folate helps in the mental and overall development of the fetus. Foods high in folic acid include: dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, beans, peas, lentils, avocado, citrus fruits, beets, carrots
- Probiotics help to fight against harmful bacteria to help maintain a healthy digestive system. You can get probiotics from foods such as yoghurt, tempeh, miso soup
Due to busy lifestyles, some mothers choose to take nutritional supplements as it can be difficult to ensure that all their meals consist of the extra nutrients they need. One supplement to consider is NESTLÉ MOM & ME, which contains all of the above nutrients.
Golden Rule #2: Stay hydrated
Keeping your body hydrated promotes milk production. Stay well hydrated by drinking 1.5 to 2 litres of fluids daily. These fluids may consist of juices and soups, but it is recommended that the bulk of your fluid should consist of water. If you start to have constipation or notice that your urine is darker, it’s time to increase your liquids.
Golden Rule #3: Breastfeeding babies can be affected by what you eat and drink
Be extra careful with toxic or potentially toxic products that can be passed through your milk. These include caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, medications, and pesticides found on fruit peels and skins. While preparing your fruits and vegetables, do wash them carefully before consumption. Watch out for sugary drinks such as packaged fruit juices or soft drinks as excess sugar can contribute to weight gain.
Try to avoid or reduce taking caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. For breastfeeding mothers, too much caffeine in your breastmilk may agitate your baby or interfere with your baby’s sleep. If you drink and smoke, we strongly recommend kicking the habit.
Golden Rule #4: Never skip breakfast
Even if your baby disturbs your normal daily cycles, never skip breakfast. To avoid the fatigue and bouts of depression that could tempt you to eat sweets, eat plenty of complex carbohydrates. For breakfast, you could have whole grain bread with avocado or whole grain cereals with milk.
To have a constant source of energy throughout the day, try potatoes, pasta or whole-grain rice, or beans and legumes for lunch and dinner. You can also eat smaller, more frequent amounts by having a healthy mid-morning snack. A medium-sized apple with light yogurt makes a good snack choice. You can also consider these smoothie recipes to jazz your milk up!
Golden Rule #5: Consistency is key
When you start to breastfeed, do continue to keep up your good eating habits acquired during pregnancy. In terms of quality and quantity, maintaining your healthy eating habits adopted during pregnancy is sufficient for breastfeeding mothers. Which is why Golden Rule #1 is so important – to start noticing what you eat and have a balanced diet from the start of your pregnancy.
Eat Right, Feel Light
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are the times when many mothers learn about health and nutrition. Make use of this experience as a discovery adventure that you are beginning with your baby. At the same time, be mindful and pay attention to your body’s signals. If you feel that something is amiss, or unsure if you are eating well enough, do not hesitate to consult your doctor for advice.
Who knows? It could be during this period of time that you learn how to eat well, shop correctly and learn to whip a nutritious meal for you, your hubby and your bub!